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Abstract

This article explores the significance of the Phelophepa train, also known as the Phelophepa Health Care Train (HCT). This train started out with only three coaches but because of the need for its services and its subsequent success, it expanded to sixteen coaches in a very short period of time. Due to the lack of primary health care services in rural areas in South Africa, Transnet decided to introduce the train to assist in providing much needed primary health care in remote rural areas where it is often the case that there is only one doctor for plus/minus 5 000 patients. Good medical care is either unavailable or unaffordable for many people due to limited infrastructure and the meagre financial position of the majority of people in these remote areas. It was for this reason that Transnet identified a niche in the primary health care system and decided to invest in a project that would benefit the rural communities who required medical care. Transnet, in conjunction with the South African government and private companies, embarked on the Phelophepa HCT project to provide much needed medical care in such areas of South Africa. The name Phelophepa is derived from the Sotho and Tswana languages which are two of the eleven official languages spoken in South Africa, and roughly translated means “good, clean health”. It is a train that has become a well-known and trusted beacon of hope in providing much needed medical care in rural South Africa.

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